Reshaping History: The Role Of Wild Cards

Posted on April 17, 2012 by

In his book, “Out of the Blue: How to Anticipate Big Future Surprises”, John Paterson defined wildcards as low probability and high impact events that would severely impact human conditions when they occur. Similarly, “The Black Swan Theory” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb also claimed that all consequential events in history come from unexpected igniter of social changes. Certainly, it always happens as anachronistic event, and people haven’t been consciously paying attention. Otherwise, there is always a sudden spark that sets off these forces that have been gathering below the surface of the objective reality to ignite the waves of changes. Once it starts, it is a quirk of fate, and it will not stop by any political high jinks.

Sometimes the wave of change could be catastrophic; other times it turns societies in a more positive way to emancipate human conscience. Interestingly enough, history is replete with many surprises. In 1914, a young Serb nationalist, Gavrilo Princip (wildcard) shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, and triggered the clash of Alliances that become WWI, a wave of catastrophic change.  In 1955, Rosa Park refused to give up her seat to a white man and set in motion a chain of events that ended racial segregation in the United States of America. In January 2011, Mohamed Bouaziz set himself on fire and became the catalyst for the Tunisian revolution, that sparked protest in several Arab countries, and eventually brought dictators to their knees. So, there are many wildcard events in human history that change the path of history one way or another for good or bad.

The underlying pressures that can foment major changes in societies are typically built up long before an unpredictable event provides the trigger, according to Professor Michael Oppenheimer of New York University’s Center for Global affairs. Of course, the unpredictable event cannot trigger social movement unless the objective reality is matured. “Social change” encompasses concept that comprises of revolution and paradigm shift to change social relations of a society and its social institutions. For instance, the Hegelian dialectic change is based on the interaction of opposing forces– which means, from the starting point of stasis, thesis countered by antithesis, yielding conflict but subsequently results to a new synthesis.

In any case, this writer and many others were expecting a big social movement within the Eritrean people triggered by (a) the tragedy of the 400 Eritreans who sank in the Mediterranean Sea (b) the Eritrean refugee’s tragedy in the Sinai desert who perished after their organs were brutally extracted to supply the lucrative business of human organs trafficking. On the other side of the equation, I was also convinced that the underlying pressure (the internal oppression by the regime and the outrage of the Eritrean Diaspora) has reached its climax to foment major changes. Albeit, the Eritrean people, especially in the Diaspora, are still insensitive to the suffering of our refugees, that is recounted by many, including the international media and non-governmental organizations (NGO).

The opposition camp on the other side, let alone to bring change to our people inside Eritrea, it couldn’t even have a little leverage to mitigate the reality of the refugees who are struggling between life and death in the hands of human traffickers. So far the International Commission for Eritrean Refugees (ICER) has done a commendable job in identifying the network and the names of those who are engaged in this despicable barbaric act. This organization deserves all kinds of help in its fight to stop and nip at the bud the crimes of human traffickers operating at the border areas between Sudan and Eritrea.

EDA Is Not Greased For Overhaul And Change

Sometimes it is funny. Though we hear EDA advocate for change, it always has the instinct to resist it. It talks about the need for change, but yet it clings to its familiar politics, to protect its comfort zone. Even after decades of stagnation, EDA’s power to the people is all smoke and mirrors. Understandably, what we got so far is a game of political dodge ball, in which power turns into demons that corrupt its collective spirit. New ideas and visions are shot down in an effort to protect the status quo of its leadership. The political spin which started just after the congress concluded four months ago, has clogged ENCDC from moving forward. Even the most learned and lettered individuals who participated in the congress have become bewildered. Honestly, at times fueling the devil’s feud is critical in shaking the foundation to ignite the spark for the forces that have been below the surface, to bring the needed change. In short, change becomes tough slog within EDA circles to show its redemptive behavior. Here, stupidity makes easy bedfellow for it, as always, with a persistent resisting behavior for change.

In his book, “The Big Sort”,  Bill Bishop complained how like mindedness is tearing America apart, culturally and politically. He magnificently explained the polarization of the American society when he aptly put it as follows: “We have built a country where we can all choose the neighborhood and news show most compatible with our lifestyle and beliefs. And we are living with the consequences with this way of life and people don’t know and understand those who live just a few miles away form them.” The reason I brought this story is because it has a parallel interface with the story to our reality. EDA has built the balkanization of Eritrean politics based on ethnic identities that do not understand each other and never tried to listen to each other’s grievances. Frankly, we are feeling the consequences; they are tearing the Eritrean society apart, culturally and politically.

The whole purpose of the Hawassa congress was to create a new reality in the opposition camp and to define a new unified political structure that is compatible to the new realities which eventually transforms the organizations that constitute the EDA umbrella. In fact there were some political organizations that promised in the congress and stated the need for the transformation of the EDA, and that if EDA members are not ready for transformation, that they are ready to go their own separate way. Ironically, we recently found out that in the EDA meeting (convened between March 31 and April 10, 2012), those organizations that manipulated the Hawassa congress under the slogan of “transformation of the EDA” were in fact the advocators for the parallel existence of EDA and ENCDC. In hindsight we found out that they were simply posturing to garner votes of confidence that translates to actual vote count at the congress. Now they are sitting on the driving seat of the executive committee of the ENCDC waggling right and left, with their treasure trove of betrayals. Tactics and processes, while important factors, do not address the socio-political issues that many organizations now face in the Eritrean landscape. Leaders should identify the social bond among the diverse groups if they are going to find the edge they need for sustainable acceptance by the entire society.

Recovering, nurturing, and expressing the common sense of a political wonder, seems to me, is not a political enactment that unifies “promise with betrayal” and “integrity with dishonesty”, but rather separating them as opposite values that do not co-exist in one entity at the same time. When betrayal and dishonesty interfere with politics or governance, the set a sequence of conflicts not limited in time and space, but undeterred, extending beyond history and unlikely to end. What we have been witnessing in the Eritrean politics for decades is something that is always outside the circuit of a civilization ambit. For sure it becomes a growing pain in our social upheaval. EDA’s promise of fake moon landing in our politics is a bygone reality. It has to retire its trench coat and be recreated in the new reality, clearing the way to the young generation before it is thrown into a dismissed basket case of our history. Not easy decision, but that is the only way out with no much wiggling room to the sunset of obscurity and convivial atmosphere that flies in the face of common sense. I am not flipping the ball to be the favorite punch bag for everyone. I am doing it to re-ignite the spark that failed to strike EDA, to induce rude awakening, kowtowed for the demand of an inerrant description of path. In a nutshell, it is known that EDA is better at making family feud than making unity and providing effective leadership.

Odd Symbiotic Relations

In politics, symbiotic relation is the living together of unlike political organizations. As we know, nothing in the universe exists alone, every human being in a web of life, all ideas and knowledge, are part of an immense evolving dynamics. In such interconnected and inter dependent co-existence, the pattern of symbiotic life is inherently predictable in a way on how they support each other. But strange enough, the symbiotic relations of EDA and ENCDC became clearly odd at best and irrelevant at worst, living more like solitaire, where the relevant existence of ENCDC is missing and the gratification of EDA is more purely mental – lacking all sense of accomplishment that accompanies solving problem. Currently, EDA is moving itself to the center of power by chastising civic organization and the public further out to the periphery of EDA circle. Now members of ENCDC who are from the public are less sure about what their role is and is not, what they could hope to do and what they could be allowed to do.

Consider the following facts to come to a logical, but heretical conclusion to cudgel one’s brain:

(a)   EDA’s Reveal Bits:-EDA leaders attempted its shroud diplomatic posture to expose its contempt to the collective leadership of ENCDC. These duly elected leaders in the congress, who are members of ENCDC, have done diplomatic shuttle on behalf of their organizations as reported by [Gedab News], essentially to make ENCDC a hostage of irrelevance.

(b)   EDA’s Game of Thrones: The trust investments from the Hawassa congress to create a formidable resistance force are being shortchanged as EDA leaders continue to drink the power squabble Kool Aid in their last meeting. That is not the whole story, but it is the guts and an evil scheme against ENCDC by EDA (EDA’s third official meeting).

(c)    EDA Refused Transformation: The long awaited transformation of EDA has dashed the hopes of those who pertinently doubt and deny the dogma existence. As I see it, these are all indications of blatancy error or the culprit’s knowledge and standing with no canonical warning.

(d)   EDA’s Business as Usual: EDA reconfirm business as usual by making the widely accepted ENCDC inert, a state of doing little or nothing. Currently ENCDC does not have power of action as long as the Executive body is in the hand of EDA. Case in point, ENCDC didn’t move an inch since the congress is concluded November 30, 2011.

(e)   EDA Attacked Coalition of Willing:  EDA, indirectly kicked out the civic organizations to the periphery and attacked the coalition of willing that was formed at the congress. ENCDC is the coalition of the willing that was formed by EDA, civic society, non-EDA political organization, and individual citizens, at the congress of Hawassa. EDA striked out the membership of EGS by creating its own rule which is contrary to the spirit and guidelines of the congress. It is irony to eject one of its coalition members while it is supposed to bring others to the loop of broader alliances. Look to the reaction against the chairman of ENCDC in this (video).

Right now ENCDC must fight to restore its legitimacy and the trust of the public within the opposition camp. The inchoate offense of the chairman to civic organizations must be deterred swiftly to rescue the body politics of the opposition camp, which is seen by the public as conspiracy on the making. In the eye of the public EGS became “undeserving victim” of EDA intrigues. The consequences are real and the leadership must address promptly, though the leadership is completely irresponsive as  Saleh Gadi once remarked in one of his article.